Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-8:3 New International Version (NIV)

 

 

Introduction…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U-H3hPYBmA

 

Be careful of the stones you throw.

A tongue can accuse and carry bad news
The seeds of distrust, it will sow
But unless you’ve made no mistakes in your life
Be careful of stones that you throw.

 

The great Hank Williams had a way of saying big truths in simple ways.

This reminds me of one of the stories in the Bible that reflected just how Jesus saw people and how he taught his disciples to be open to all kinds of people and to be gracious and loving of all, even the ones the so called “good people” in society.  It’s a lesson we all need to hear often and be reminded of.

 

“I Have Something to Tell You”…The story in Luke.

Jesus had been invited to have dinner at one of the Pharisee’s home.  It’s always cool to be invited over to someone who is important or “special” isn’t it?  I know it is with me.  There’s a little bit of snob in all of us and somehow being invited to an important person’s house is quite a compliment.  Of course, everyone is important but still…

Well, you know the feeling.

After he arrived, the Bible doesn’t tell us everyone who was there for dinner but it was quite a list of people no doubt. Jesus was reclining at the table eating when a woman who was described as a “sinful woman” heard he was there and she crashed the dinner party and brought expensive perfume to share with Jesus.  While she stood behind him she began weeping and her tears covered Jesus’ head and his feet. Why was she weeping?  The Bible doesn’t say exactly.  But you can surmise for yourself.  Maybe she was suddenly aware of how good Jesus was and how bad she was?  Maybe she suddenly saw herself in the mirror and was sorry for who she had become.  Maybe the sheer joy of being in the presence of Jesus overwhelmed her and the tears were tears of joy.  Whatever.  It doesn’t really matter, what matters is that she loved Jesus, she had a sense of being in a holy moment with Jesus and she began wiping Jesus’ head and feet with the perfume and then drying them with her hair.  I love Jesus but for more reasons than one I couldn’t see myself doing that.  Anyway, at this point the Pharisee questioned whether Jesus was a prophet or not since he didn’t seem to know the woman he was talking with was a sinner.  He started scolding Jesus about hanging around with people like this woman and associating with sinners.

Jesus looked right at him, with the piercing blue eyes (we don’t really know what color his eyes were do we!) and said simply but forcefully, with power in his voice…”I have something to tell  you”.  To his credit the Pharisee said “What is it?”

Jesus told the Pharisee one of the great truths that we all need to be reminded of.  He did it first with a short parable about two men being forgiven of their debt to a money lender.   One of the men had a big debt and the other a small debt.  “Which of them will love the man who forgave their debt more?  “The one with the larger debt” replied the Pharisee.  He got the point.  “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then Jesus told the man that the woman had tears and water and perfume for his feet but he gave him nothing.  She gave him a kiss, the Pharisee gave him none.  Therefore, said Jesus, “her many sins have been forgiven, because of her great love.”  Then he added, “Whoever has little to be forgiven lives little”.  And with that he forgave the woman’s sins…and left an important and indelible message on our hearts.

 

There are several great truths in this story we all need to hear today and be reminded of in our own lives.  Let me share two of them this morning.  God knows we need to hear them.

 

I. Hanging out with the right people.

The first great truth in this story is that just as Jesus hung out with the everyday people of his times, the sinners, the liars, the tax collectors, the simple fishermen of the great lake, in short the people who needed him most and so should we.

Jesus loved everyone of course, including the so-called religious people of the day but he had a special place in his heart for the very people religion ignored…but who needed him and religion the most.

Read the Bible…the New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus being with the very people the Pharisees and Sadducees and the “good” people of the day avoided.

He liked tax collectors…even made one of them one of his disciples.

He liked hard working, plain people, simple people like fishermen, several of whom he made his disciples.  People like James and John.

He liked people who didn’t go to church but who needed church and needed him and were essentially good people, waiting for someone to see their goodness and to invite them in.

He liked people who were sick, people who were hurt, and people who were lonely, people who had loss in their lives…everyday people, people of the street.

He brought his love, his grace, his forgiveness to the very people the spiritual people of his day should have been interested in but weren’t.  And he brought them to God.

 

Is there a message in there for us?

Should we be seeking out and speaking with and associating with and loving and seeing the good in the people who don’t come to church, or who are fed up with religious pretension and who have much to gain by becoming a part of the church?

I think you know the answer to that question.

 

As a matter of fact, some of the best people I’ve ever known had nothing to do with the church…not this one or any other one.  For one reason or another they had been turned off by the church, gotten out of the habit of going to church or walked away from the church…and yet they were as honest and as ethical and as kind and as gracious as the ones in the church…maybe more so.

When I first got to Bethel as a young twenty-one (21) year old pastor with no experience in ministry, very little in the church and not much knowledge to boot I often went down to Shipwreck’s Service Station on the north side of town.  It was a run down, ramshackle, dirty place and a lot of “nare do wells”, as they were called, hung around and played cards (Tonk) and drank from a mason jar.  I don’t know if anyone criticized me or not, and frankly to this day I wouldn’t care but I grew to love some of those guys (no woman ever hung out at Shipwrecks although some did get gas there) and would like to think they saw me as just an everyday human being who liked people and accepted them as equal…no better or no worse than me.

Yes, to be like the Lord we need to get ourselves out among the people who need us and need Him the most…and not to judge them or look down on them or think we’re better than them.

II. He who has the most to be forgiven for will love the most.

The second great truth of the story from Luke today is simple enough too.  He who has much to be forgiven for will appreciate the love and grace of God the most and will love the one who forgives him the most.

We know how much we need to be forgiven for, don’t we?

We know who we are, don’t we?

We know the bad thoughts that sometimes find a home in our head and heart, don’t we?

We know the bad deeds of commission as well as the ones of omission, don’t we?

 

The point is, you see, we are the “sinful woman”.

The church isn’t for pure wonderfully good people…it’s for sinners.

It’s always been that way.

Some see it and many don’t.

But when all is said and done we are all here because we need to be forgiven, we all need to sit with Jesus and with other sinners so we can thank God for being forgiven and so we give to one another what Jesus has given to us…unconditional love and forgiveness.

Remember…the church is a hospital for sick people…not an assembly hall for perfect people.

 

III. The Third great truth for today.  Because we have been forgiven and loved we are called to love and forgive others and to give Jesus our best.

The third and final truth in Luke’s great story for today is simple…yet no less important or profound than the first two:  When we love Jesus we give him our love…not what is left over or what is spare change or what doesn’t cost us but our best, our first.

The “sinful woman” spared no perfume.

She wiped the feet of the Lord with her hair.

She cried in his presence.

She loved him so much and she was so grateful for being forgiven and for being given new life that she poured out her heart, everything she had for him.

 

So must we.

To know we are sinners, to know Jesus loves us still, to know we have been forgiven is to give him our all, our best, our everything.

 

Do you love Jesus?

Then love your fellow man.

 

Have you been forgiven much?

Then forgive others much.

 

Do you love Jesus?

Then give him your best.

 

Closing…

Three great truths for today.

We all need to hear them and to be reminded of them.

One:  We are called to associate with everyone, to think of ourselves as no better or no worse any anyone else but to especially associate with the everyday people, the down to earth people, and the people outside of the church at least as much and probably more than just the people we see in church.

 

Two:  We who have much to be forgiven for must love Jesus and appreciate his love and his grace for us all the more.  We who have much to be forgiven for can love Jesus all the more.

 

Three:  To love Jesus is to give him our best and to give him our all, not just a little or with what’s left over, but our best.

 

Robert Duvall starred in one of the great all time “religious movies” – “The Apostle”.  To drill it down to its shortest; a Bible preaching, sincere but self-righteous Pentecostal preacher commits the ultimate sin of killing someone and in his desperate attempt to escape the law and still do good with his life finds that it is the ordinary people, the left out people, the unimportant people, the “sinners” who need his message and his gifts the most.  He finds himself because he finally realizes how lost he is.  In the process of being on the lamb he helps build a new and materially poor church for poor black people in Louisiana and in so doing discovers that the very people who needed him the most were the people he had overlooked in the past.  In realizing how “lost” he was he “found” himself.  In the end he is caught and sent to prison and the last scene, perhaps one of the best scenes, is a scene in which this poor sinner of a preacher is seen working along a highway with the rest of the prisoners, all in their black and white striped uniforms cutting down high grass along the side of the road.  He is still singing, he is still preaching…only now to the people who need him the most…the lost and sinners of the chain gang.  I might call it “Church Where It Belongs…Alongside the highway of lost convicts”.

 

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:48-50     New International Version (NIV)